Our Philosophy

What we’re all about:

Positive reinforcement. At Birch Bark, we believe (and science has proven!) that positive reinforcement methods of training and behavior modification are more effective, lasting, and humane than old-fashioned punishment or “dominance” based training. We use force-free methodology that makes sense, works beautifully, and keeps both you and your dog safe and happy.
Cultivating strong relationships.
We want you to have the best possible relationship you can with your dog, and like all good relationships, that starts with communication.  Often the conflict that dog owners experience with their pups is based on a combination of miscommunication and opposing motivations; we are here to help navigate and resolve that conflict with practical, proven, and dog-and-person-friendly techniques.
Seeing each dog for who they are, and who they can be.
Every dog is different, every dog is uniquely and beautifully themselves, and as we say over and over again: “every dog is a good dog… but.” Each dog has a different but, whether it’s counter surfing or growling at visitors. We are passionate about seeing the good and great in each and every dog we work with, and helping bring to light what your dog is capable of beyond the limits of their “but” behavior.
Creating peace. It doesn’t matter how much we love our dogs, we still have moments of frustration or irritation with them. We can feel overwhelmed and exhausted from living with a special of higher needs dog, no matter how devoted to them we are. Out primary goal is to reduce the frustration and stress that you (and your dog!) experience by facilitating clear communication, cooperation, and mindful dog training.

We freely say yes to

  • Scientifically proven, force-free methods
  • Making training joyful
  • Empathy, compassion and understating, for both humans and dogs
  • Plans and programs that work in the real world
  • All dogs: no matter their breed, mix, or background

We firmly say no to:

  • Pain & punishment based methods
  • Using bribes or threats to achieve compliance
  • Outdated dominance theory and training-by-force
  • Impractical plans that aren’t successful outside of a laboratory
  • Breed-biases, judgements, and labels

What is mindful dog training?

Mindful dog training is a cooperative, constructive relationship with our dogs that’s grounded and founded in awareness & acceptance without judgement.

Dogs are often given the short end of the stick: we expect compliance without acknowledging that they have motivations, emotions, or inclinations of their own. When dogs do not behave in a way we desire, we often judge and label them “stubborn” or “stupid”, without regard to their perception of things. When we open our minds and our eyes to the very real fact that dogs are sentient beings whose experience of a situation deserves consideration, our perspective shifts.
When we accept the validity of our dogs’ experience, our relationship with them is elevated.

By integrating an awareness of a dog’s perspective of events, their body language, and emotional state, we can shine a light on why the dog is behaving in a particular way: we learn to see with the dog’s eyes. When we can turn that lens back onto ourselves and–without judgement–see how the dog interprets our responses to them: gestures, tone of voice, and actions, it becomes clear how our own behavior functions to either facilitate or inhibit the dog’s behavior, whether we like it or not.

With this increased awareness and broadened scope of perspective without the added weight of labels or judgment, we have increased mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness we are able to create more opportunities for constructive learning as well as better help our dogs through the stresses of life. 
Doesn’t that sound nice?


Let’s make happy dogs & peaceful homes together.